How to fix your Windows computer when you have Malware

mb-logoThis guide is far from comprehensive, but is usually enough to get your computer working again. If the infection is particularly serious, I would recommend rebuilding your system from scratch – as you never really know what information has been damaged, taken, destroyed etc.

I would suggest you need just 3 apps to clean everything up. They are all FREE. MalwareBytes is basically the king of all Malware removal tools – and I can not recommend it highly enough.

These links may go out of date, so please search for the latest versions.

Malware Removal Process

If some of this doesn’t make sense – please use Google to find more information. 🙂

If your computer is really slow or otherwise messed up, and you have access to another computer, download all three from your working machine and put them on a USB stick. Otherwise download all the setup files to your computer and follow this process.

  1. On the problem computer – turn off any networking (wifi, unplug your network cable etc) to ensure you are not on-line.
  2. Empty your Windows Recycle Bin.
  3. Clear the Cache of any web-browsers you use (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari etc). Get rid of all your browsing history and all temporary files. Don’t clear your passwords if you can’t remember them! If you have IE browser problems – try clearing this from the Control Panel. This guide will help you with that.
  4. Install Malware Bytes. There are quite a few options when installing it – you do not need to go for any of the paid or trial versions. The free version is usually adequate.
  5. Once that is done, you may be asked to reboot.
  6. When your system is back up, run MalwareBytes and do a full scan.
  7. Move anything in finds in to quarantine (or remove completely)
  8. Reboot.
  9. Do the whole MalwareBytes full scan again. I know its boring – but just do it.
  10. Reboot.
  11. Uninstall whatever Antivirus you have (even if you spent money on it – its obviously not working) .
  12. Reboot again.
  13. Re-enable your networking.
  14. Install Avast! Free AntiVirus.
  15. Update Avast! if asked to do so.
  16. When Avast starts up – it should ask you to scan. If possible, Schedule a boot time scan and then reboot. As your computer starts back up it will do a full virus check before Windows starts. This might take a while depending on how big your hard drive, how much data you have on there and how many issues it finds. Be patient.
  17. When Windows is back up (unless it asks you to do something else) install CCleaner.
  18. Open CCleaner.
  19. Run a “registry scan” with that which may find a load more problems and should guide you through fixing them. Note: I can’t promise this wont cause its own problems – but CCleaner is usually quite good at figuring out what is safe to remove.
  20. Remember…. Google is your friend for technical issues – so use it to find out more about just what you are being asked to remove.

Then some advice for future usage…

  • Never, ever use Internet Explorer. There is just no point. Always use Firefox or Chrome (both are faster, more secure and are free to download).
  • Clear out your Internet History regularly, as all those temporary files in the cache take a long time to scan through when you’re doing a virus or malware scan.
  • Always keep MalwareBytes and Avast updated and run scans with them regularly.
  • Backup your important files to the Cloud. There are lots of inexpensive providers out there now and it means if this happens again you can throw your screwed up laptop out of the window and get a new one without fear of losing your holiday or baby snaps.
  • If you only use your computer for email and internet, seriously consider switching to Ubuntu or Mint Linux. Its very easy to learn. It is a completely different ‘operating system’ (just like Mac OS is different to Windows; Linux is different to both). It runs faster on older computers, is much more secure, has very few virus or malware issues, and is completely free.